Mom Speaks on Dangers of Distracted Driving
CARBONDALE -- A mother, touched by tragedy, is sharing her story in hopes of helping others. Kim Schlau's two daughters were killed six years ago in a car crash caused by an Illinois State Police trooper. She's trying to make a positive change in their memory.
Schlau is in Carbondale to talk to police officers about her daughters, the accident that took their lives and the dangers of distracted driving. It's a mission to which she has now dedicated her life.
"He hit them at 126 miles an hour with full throttle and no break," Schlau recalls as she points to a photograph of the mangled car her daughters were in. She faces these images dozens of times every year as she travels across the country, talking about her family tragedy. Schlau chooses to remain positive.
"I get to look at pictures of my girls; I get to talk about my girls. Every parent loves to talk about their kids."
Those girls are 18-year-old Jessica Uhl and her 13-year-old sister Kelli. They were killed in 2007, the day after Thanksgiving, when a trooper lost control of his vehicle on Interstate 64 and crashed into the girls' car.
"Responding to that call at a high rate of speed, he was on his cell phone, he was on his on-board computer, and he was also using his shoulder radio, driving in heavy, day-after Thanksgiving traffic," explains Schlau.
Former trooper Matt Mitchell was charged with four felonies, but ultimately took a plea deal that meant only 30 months of probation. It also barred him from working for law enforcement again.
Now, Schlau is sharing her story with officers around the country, hoping they think twice every time they need to speed for emergencies and reminding them to stay focused on the roadway.
"I know how it feels to stand at the side of the door and have police come up to your door and say, 'I'm sorry, your children are not coming home.' I know how it feels, and I didn't want anyone else to have that feeling," she says.
Mitchell was just denied his fourth appeal to get his drivers license back. He can appeal every 90 days, but Schlau says family and friends will be there each time to make sure the judge knows their story.
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